Meet Alabama football opponent Alvin Ward Jr. of Mercer, who plays trumpet and taught himself piano and guitar
The first depth chart that included Mercer outside linebacker Alvin Ward Jr. had nothing to do with football.
The trumpet section in his middle school band had seven chairs. During sixth grade, Ward usually hovered around No. 7 seven.
Then, he stopped goofing around in seventh grade and he quickly rose up through the ranks.
“I started seeing how other people were getting awards and things and I’m like, I want that,” Ward told The Tuscaloosa News. “I finally took it serious, and I started going home and practicing.”
And practicing and practicing and practicing. He quickly moved up to first chair and went on to take part in auditions, concerts, jazz band, marching band, church and more.
Throughout the summer, The Tuscaloosa News is taking a look at an interesting player or person around each Alabama football opponent: not necessarily the best, the worst or the most important person. Instead, the focus for this series will be on who's interesting.
Ward receives the nod for most interesting player for Week 2 opponent Mercer because he’s not a linebacker who plays just one instrument.
He plays four.
Ward started with trumpet and has since added piano, bass guitar and electric guitar. His band teacher helped him learn trumpet, but Ward has taught himself the other three.
To learn each instrument, the process hasn’t been all that different from football.
“I had to break everything down slowly,” Ward said. “Just like our walkthroughs in practice. We break every movement down. That’s the same way I did it. I made sure I broke down everything to understand the theory of music.”
He used YouTube to help learn the keyboard during his redshirt sophomore year at Georgia Southern. He’s now a grad transfer at Mercer.
He will sometimes just play chords or riff with his own creations. But one of his favorite songs to play is "If I Ain’t Got You" by Alicia Keys.
“(Playing music) was just so therapeutic for me,” Ward said. “After a long day of practice or I just have a whole lot of homework, I just want to clear my mind. I tend to get stuck in my head a lot, so as I play my instruments, it soothes me out and I can be just calm down and just enjoy my time.”
Then there was the time he started pressing his keyboard during a Zoom call with Mercer teammates.
Ward made the tragic video conferencing call mistake, thinking he was on mute.
But he wasn’t.
Ward apologized. However, his teammates told him they liked it.
In fact, they asked him to play at future Zoom meetings.
“They’re actually real fascinated by it,” Ward said.
As they should be. It’s not every day someone has the talent and ability to theoretically play in both the football game and halftime show.